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Back to School: Be Prepared!

 Yes it’s already that time again. Like it or not, school starts in just a few weeks. Don’t beat yourself up for not opening that book bag all summer. If you are like me, you need the first two months of summer to relax and you deserve it! Besides, teachers work best under pressure! Here are some tips to help you prepare yourself, prepare your students, prepare the parents, and prepare for the first day. Continue reading →

Why Teach?

 I have been a teacher long enough to remember when the National Commission on Excellence in Education issued 1983’s “A Nation at Risk” report and teachers were informed they were failing their students. For the better part of thirty years, teachers have been prevailed upon to work harder, to get better test results from their students and to restore our country’s health and status by producing shiny widget-like Lake Wobegon students, all college- and career-ready, regardless of the influence of anything outside of our classrooms. Fast-forward to January 2011 when the most vicious attacks on teachers began in earnest in Ohio and in many other states throughout the country. So, why teach? Continue reading →

A Paraeducator’s Perspective: More to Support Professionals Than Meets the Eye

 Just like so many other support staff in the field of teaching, librarians are seen as the fringe elements of the profession, not as important as core instructors, and, in most districts, the first to go when funds get tight. Not many people know all that I contribute or how much I am responsible for, but obviously it is far more than just checking books in or out. Continue reading →

Teacher Input in the Governor’s Education Funding Model – Part 2

 The final meeting (rescheduled after a prior “scheduling snafu”) to discuss a new school funding formula for Ohio was held to a packed room. Those who didn’t get there early enough had to stand or sit on the floor for the entirety of the 90 minute discussion. After Mattei-Smith finished her explanation of the new funding model’s principles, participants voiced their concerns. But keep in mind, the governor’s intended timeline to implement a new funding model for education in Ohio is unbelievably short. Continue reading →

Teacher Input Limited – Part 1

 Whereas Strickland immediately unveiled his education reform principles and gave plenty of notice that he would be holding meetings for several months in order to gather citizen and education stakeholder input, the current governor is taking quite a different tack. Barbara Mattei-Smith, from the governor’s office, quickly arranged for meetings to be held over three weeks in July, giving teachers virtually no advanced notice. Citizens’ feedback was not invited and stakeholders were kept separate from one another. Continue reading →

There is No Time for Partisan Bickering

 If we don’t get our financial house in order by August 2, the results will be catastrophic. Two competing Congressional plans exist; both will raise the debt ceiling and lower the national deficit, but they differ in how that will be achieved. Boehner’s unfair, unbalanced plan will shield millionaires and billionaires, and make our students the targets of massive budget cuts if we don’t protect them now. Contact your member of Congress and urge them to compromise on a balanced approach that protects the most vulnerable and requires those that can to pay their fair share. Continue reading →

As We Winter in Valley Forge, Take Heed

 The summer of 2011 is our winter at Valley Forge. As the educator-activist division of the Grand Army of the Middle Class emerges from our summer encampment, we must be ready for the Battle of the Bill. We must be ready to discredit all of the pro-SB5 propaganda that will be shoved down Ohioans’ throats. Make no mistake—we will be involved in many skirmishes and battles before our long war is over. Continue reading →

HB 159 Will Make It Harder to Kill SB 5

 Does your school district have a student briefcase policy? That is, something that governs whether or not students can bring briefcases to school, and what they can do with them. More than likely your answer to the question was no, because students don’t bring briefcases to school. A school board that created a briefcase policy […] Continue reading →

Know thy self, Know thy enemy

 It was Sun Tzu in the sixth century B.C. who made famous the proverb, “If you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” This is still good advice for union members as we work to overturn SB5 and other legislation here in Ohio. While the turn of […] Continue reading →